I met Ella at a dinner party in Byron Bay. We had both moved to the area at the same time and bonded over similar lifestyles and interests, good wine and great company. Ella is a very talented writer, and passionate environmental conservationist and has just launched an exciting new venture Sun Juju.
What brought you to Byron Bay? What do you love about the area?
The desire to stop travelling so much brought me to Byron Bay. I kept fleeing my hometown to travel every year for 7 years, so I realised I needed to move somewhere else. I thought I was going to move back to London, but decided to check out Byron first and by accident, or by fate, felt like I finally found my ‘people’ here.
Ella wears the Mariposa Maillot in dark taupe.
Nature is my favourite part about the area — it’s the most beautiful part of the world I’ve ever been to.
We know that you’re originally from the beaches of WA, do you think growing up by the coast has inspired your passion for environmental conservation?
I’d say the thought of my old local Port Beach covered in plastic does help — but truly, it’s my awe for the natural world, mixed with my knowledge of what we’re doing to it. I want to live in a world where I can take my future kids (if I have them) down to a clean beach, or waterfall and eat clean pesticide free food that was grown in good soil. We rely on nature for our physical and spiritual well being, it literally makes no sense that we’re currently biting the hand that feeds us.
After what felt like an endless search to no avail we were very excited when we heard you were developing a reef safe, plastic free, SPF 50+ sunscreen made in Australia! Tell us a bit more about your new project Sun Juju, how did the idea come about?
Thank you! Well, it started because I was writing a blog documenting my efforts to avoid using plastic and living more sustainably. I saw endless gaps in the market where there just weren’t products that matched the standard of what was out there in plastic. Sunscreen was the biggest. After having a champagne with my friend on my last night in Melbourne to celebrate some new acting jobs she just landed, we talked about the idea, I decided to commit to it — the rest was history.
What do you see in the future for Sun Juju?
I’d love to see our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo get over the line. I’ve received some incredible support and kind words of encouragement so far. We’re at 10% of our target on day 2 which is great, we just need to keep the momentum going. After that, I see a huge need for improved plastic free beauty and personal care — there’s still not enough out there. There’s a few plastic free stores for bulk food and homewares now, but I think we need a plastic free version of Sephora that appeals to the masses.
Who do you look up to as environmental activists leading the way?
I look up to a lot of people, especially environmentalists, ] those who’ve been at it for 30+ years. Robin Wall Kimmerer, an Indigenous author and botanist with an incredible way with words that makes people fall in love with nature again. Helena Norberg Hodge, an activist and filmmaker I interviewed recently, who documented the 14 years she spent on and off in Ladakh and what she learned from the people there about the importance of localisation. Bob Brown’s tireless activism, David Attenborough (I challenge you to find someone who doesn’t like that man) and Jane Fonda, because she’s just an all round badass.
What have you found is the most challenging part about running your own business so far and what practices have you put in place to relax?
Wow, great question. I’m actually in the midst of learning to balance as we speak. I’ve discovered going to the beach without my phone and a book has been crucial. Running or walking the lighthouse. Meditating, basically anything without a phone. I try to listen to what I need each day. Tonight it was wine, yesterday it was a run. It’s always going to be a work in progress — it’s like brushing your teeth I guess, you gotta do it everyday.
Ella is on a mission to eliminate single use plastic sunscreen bottles and the 14,000 tonnes of toxic sunscreen chemicals that enter our oceans each year through her business Sun Juju. She’ll donate 5% to plant kelp, which sequesters carbon faster than anything else.
If you’d like to help make toxic and plastic sunscreens a thing of the past, you can donate to Ella’s important cause here before it the campaign ends March 30th.